It is almost difficult to call the Microsoft Flight franchise a “game.” Technically it is, but the series has always placed a heavy influence on simulation side—so much so that there was a time several military bases even used Microsoft Flight Simulator as a teaching tool.
Following the release of Flight Simulator X in 2006, the series went into hibernation. Many were concerned that Microsoft was abandoning its PC gaming, and the 30 year old franchise that began in 1982 was a casualty of that decision.
Then in August of 2010, Microsoft announced that Microsoft’s PC development team at Microsoft Studios was still alive and kicking, and they had a handful of titles coming to prove it, including Fable III and Age of Empires Online. But chief among the announcements was the new Microsoft Flight game. And rather than a new sequel, Microsoft is envisioning this title as something a bit different.
In addition to the simulator side that made the franchise what it is, there will also be a handful of more game oriented modes that anyone can pick up. Development was underway, but we would have to wait to see exatly what the new game modes would be, and how they would work. It was encouraging news for longtime fans, and possibly for new gamers interested in checking out one of the longest running series in gaming.
But since then, very little news has been coming regarding the title. Microsoft didn’t to mention it at E3, which had some wondering if perhaps the franchise had crashed and burned.
Apparently, the series is doing well and the development is moving along. According to a post that 1up caught wind of, Microsoft Studios is even now seeking beta testers to come iron out the kinks, beginning in January. The application process is open to everyone via the developer’s website.
Still no official word on when we can expect it to hit the market, but the odds are sooner rather than later. The silence leading up to this point could simply mean that Microsoft is taking its time and making sure that its once flagship franchise is deserving of the name. If that is the case and quality is the priority, the beta tests are definitely a good sign, but may also mean a release is still months away, if not longer.